There is wrapping paper everywhere. Ollie has eaten only half of it. Bob the Quaffle is lying forgotten in the midst of it all. Aidan is barely visible under the gold and the red, but I can still hear him shouting in excitement at the fact that Santa knew exactly which number he wanted on the back of his Chudley Cannons jersey – James’s number. Wise man, that Santa Claus.
Luckily, he seems to think that Ollie is the best present anyone could ever ask for. He discovered her when he burst into my bedroom at half five this morning and found her sleeping on the floor. He was confused as to why Santa left her in my room, so I made up an elaborate excuse that Santa was obviously afraid she would get lonely during the night, so left her in my room so the surprise wouldn’t be ruined. Motherhood really has made me a fantastic liar.
Scorpius shows up alone at eight o’clock, looking as if he’s only just rolled out of bed. He’s clearly not brushed his hair, and I’m fairly sure he slept in that t-shirt he’s wearing. Why isn’t Daisy here? He said ‘we’ yesterday. ‘We’ were coming over to see Aidan on Christmas morning. Did she realise how inappropriate her presence here would be? Is she actually an intelligent person? Is there anything wrong with her at all? Aside from the fact that she marries people in Las Vegas, of course. Maybe she has her own child that she has to visit. Maybe she doesn’t have custody of the child because she’s a serial bride, and Scorpius isn’t the first victim she’s married in Las Vegas.
“Dad!” Aidan cries, appearing from under a pile of wrapping paper, “Dad, look what Santa brought me!”
“Blimey,” Scorpius practically yawns, looking around at the very messy living room, “You must’ve cleaned out that sleigh of his.” He sits down on the floor in the middle of the wrapping paper and starts looking through Aidan’s stuff with him. The reason he has yet to say a word to me is because I’m in the kitchen, peeking out at them. Yes, I’m a coward. “Where’s your Mum?”
Shit. I think he might have seen me peeking. Now I have to come out and say hello.
“Dunno,” Aidan shrugs, fiddling about with his training wand, not really listening, “Look Dad, look what this does...”
“That’s brilliant, mate...”
Okay, they’re playing with something. I have a few more minutes to hide out here in the kitchen, drinking my tea in peace, preparing myself for the day ahead. I remember a time when I used to look forward to Christmas more than any other day of the year. Christmas dinner at the Burrow used to be a happy occasion. But not since Scorpius came into my life. Since Scorpius started coming to Christmas dinner, six years ago, I’ve spent the day avoiding him like the plague.
Take for example the first Christmas he spent at the Burrow when I was sixteen. I was pregnant, he didn’t know about it and he was going out with my cousin, Dom. The second Christmas he spent at The Burrow, he had come home from Hogwarts for the holidays. Aidan was a few months old and I was stressed up to the eyeballs – and that was the time he decided to spring it on me that he ‘accidentally’ kissed a Hufflepuff girl called Rebecca. How you 'accidentally' kiss someone, I still don't know. Out of all of the Christmases Scorpius spent at The Burrow, not one of them stand out in my mind as happy. And I think this year will be worse than any of them.
“Are you avoiding me?” Scorpius appears in the doorway separating the kitchen from the living room, rubbing his eyes tiredly.
“No,” I say immediately.
“Because it seems like you’re avoiding me,” he says. He sits himself down at the table across from me, puts his head down and closes his eyes. Is he serious? I get up at seven every single day of my life, and he thinks eight o’clock is early. See, these are the things that piss me off the most. Before Aidan came along, my usual rising hour at the weekends would be around midday. Now I consider half seven a lie-on. Scorpius’s sleeping habits apparently haven’t changed at all. “I’m bloody wrecked.”
“Oh, have you been up since half five?” I snap.
“No,” he mumbles, “But I got to bed late.”
Oh God. Please do not tell me he’s going to tell me about his sexual habits with his wife, because I may just throw up all over him. And it wouldn’t be the first time I puked on Scorpius Malfoy.
“Yeah, well so did I,” I say, wanting to beat him in this ‘who-got-less-sleep’ competition, “What time are you going to The Burrow at?”
“We’ll probably head over at around one,” he says, “We’re going to my parents’ for dinner at three.”
Usually Scorpius spends Christmas day with my family and then I spend New Year’s Day with his. It’s never a pleasant experience, having dinner with the Malfoys. I suppose I sort of took it for granted that we’d be doing the same thing this year, but I suppose it’d just be weird for me to join Scorpius and his wife for dinner.
“Did you tell your parents you got married yet?” I ask, knowing the answer already.
“Eh, no. Not yet.”
I’d like to be there to see Draco Malfoy’s reaction to hearing that his only precious little son got married in a Muggle casino. In fact, I’d pay good money to see it. Would it be inappropriate for me to ask Daisy to take a picture of it?
Scorpius leaves after we have a very awkward breakfast together, so I start getting Aidan ready to go.
“I want to wear my jersey!” Aidan protests when I take out the nice shirt and pants Mum bought for him a few weeks ago.
“You’re wearing this,” I tell him firmly.
“I don’t want to!”
“Aidan! You’ll wear this or we’ll stay at home!” I threaten. Why do I always have to be the one he makes that disgusted face at?
“Happy Christmas!” Jenny is the first to greet us when Aidan, Ollie and I arrive at The Burrow, almost half an hour late because I had to practically wrestle him into his good clothes. I had to hide his jersey. And we had to bring Ollie to stop him from throwing a complete wobbly. Aidan isn’t talking to me, so after Jenny hugs him, he runs off with Ollie to find Remus.
“I don’t see what’s so happy about it,” I mumble. It looks like everyone else is here already. Nana Molly has started the food preparations, and although she’s almost eighty, I know it’ll be just as delicious as it is every year. Grandad is sitting in an armchair, reading the paper to Dorie, who is perched happily on his knee. The house is so crowded that I don’t think I’m going to have to worry about bumping into Daisy when she arrives.
Jenny and I go into the living room where all of the younger relations seem to be gathered. I greet everyone with fake pleasantness, except for James, who I ignore completely. It seems like ages since I’ve seen everyone. Lily cut her hair, Fred stopped shaving, Lucy lost weight, Molly put on weight and I’m fairly sure that Louis got, if possible, even quieter. Dom and Roxie aren’t even here. Hugo is spending this Christmas with his girlfriend, Robin, who is a Muggle. That’s all we know about her – Robin-the-Muggle.
While everyone else chats happily among themselves, I complain to Jenny, because I know she’s the only person who’ll actually listen to me. Jenny’s more like a family member to me than any of the others. She’ll babysit.
“...so she’s about seven foot tall and she’s not even that ugly,” I say unhappily, when describing Daisy to her.
“Maybe so, but guess what?” Jenny whispers, smirking, “She’s thirty-three.”
I drop the peanut I’m holding and glare at her.
“Are you serious?” I gasp and she nods. “Does Scorpius know?”
“Of course he knows!” Jenny exclaims, “He told Al, who told me!”
I can’t believe it – thirty-three! Not that I consider being in one’s thirties old. After all, Teddy is thirty and not too long ago I would have had absolutely no problem marrying him. Still, there’s something strange about a woman marrying a bloke ten years her junior, isn’t there? It just seems a lot odder for a woman to marry a man ten years younger than her than one ten years older. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, or sexist, or ageist or whatever you want to call it. But why would a thirty-three year old, successful career-woman want to marry an immature idiot like Scorpius? He’s hardly a catch. Yes, he’s quite good looking and he’s fairly tall and has good dental hygiene, but he also has a child and prides himself on the fact that he can beat James in a ‘who can burp the alphabet backwards the fastest’ competition. She must have an ulterior motive. Maybe she’s just after the Malfoy fortune. I mean, when she was my age, Scorpius was twelve. It's like me going out with a second year.
Except less illegal.
“I know what you’re thinking,” says Jenny quietly, “She only married him because –”
“He’s a Malfoy with lots of money!” I cry, “That’s it! How could he be so stupid to fall for that?”
“No,” Jenny shakes her head, “Scorpius doesn’t even have that much money anyway, his parents do. But what do we both know he does have?”
I fail to come up with a satisfactory sarcastic reply because there are just too damn many.
“Working man bits!” she exclaims loudly. Everyone stops talking and stares at us. “Did I say that too loud?”
“No, I don’t think the deaf old woman in Brighton heard you,” I hiss.
“But think about it,” Jenny whispers when everyone else returns to their respective conversations, “She’s probably going through that phase that women go through when they hit their thirties. Her biological clock is ticking, you know?”
“She’s thirty-three, she’s hardly pushing menopause, Jen,” I say, but I can’t help considering Jenny’s point. Of course Daisy knew Scorpius has good swimmers – Aidan’s a fairly good ad for them. And if you were going to have kids with someone, why not a tall, blonde wizard from a wealthy background? The thought of Daisy becoming pregnant with Scorpius’s child is enough to make me feel sick. Not as sick as me becoming pregnant with another of his children makes me feel, but still quite queasy.
“Do you really think they’re going to start having children soon?” I ask, suddenly starting to panic. What happens to me and Aidan when Daisy Junior comes along? Will we just be distant memories for Scorpius? Are we just filling a gap until he starts his real family? I’m going to be stuck in that tiny little flat forever, while Scorpius, Daisy and their children live in some big fancy country house, eating caviar for breakfast and wiping their arses with solid gold toilet paper. Or maybe Aidan will want to live with his precious father who doesn’t make him wear shirts to family occasions and who has the time to play Quidditch with him. Maybe he’ll forget about me and embrace Daisy as his new mother.
I’m going to die alone.
“No!” says Jenny quickly, “No, they’re not going to start having children! I highly doubt Scorpius wants another after –”
“After the massive mistake he made with me?” I snap, feeling my eyes welling up. If I start crying, I might just have to flush my head down the toilet.
“Come on, bathroom,” Jenny demands and practically drags me the whole way up the stairs and into the bathroom, “Alright, you can cry now.”
“I don’t want to cry!” I yell, though tears are now actually running down my face, “He just acts so God damn casual about everything as if it’s no big deal that he’s married! Married! You and Al aren’t even married yet!”
“Well...” she starts uncomfortably, “Actually...”
“Do not tell me you’re married, Jennifer Louise Winters! If you’ve cheated me out of a hen night, I’ll skin you alive, mark my words!” I cry hysterically.
“No, no!” she says quickly, “But we’ve set a date.”
“That’s...great,” I say honestly, not wanting to let my own rotten love life shit all over hers, “When?”
“The beginning of March,” she says.
“The beginning of March? That’s only eight weeks away, Jenny!” I’m surprised – I always imagined Al and Jenny would have one of those three year long engagements. It’s only been three months.
“I know...but I wanted to get married before I start showing.”
I pause. She smirks.
“Showing what?” I have to ask.
“What do you think?” she says excitedly, “Rose, I’m pregnant!”
Oh. That sort of showing. I wasn’t even aware that Al and Jenny were looking to have a baby.
“Oh Jenny that’s brilliant!” I cry, but then pause, “Isn't it? You are happy about this? Because if you’re not I know some great ways of dealing with it. Have you contemplated hiding in the bathroom and breaking up your parents?”
“No, Rose, I’m happy,” she assures me, “I’m only a few weeks on, so we’re not telling anyone yet, but I just couldn’t keep it in any longer! It was a bit of a shock...”
I bet it was. I hug her, feeling half-happy for her and half-upset by the fact that everyone else’s lives seem to be moving forward, while mine is stuck in the one place. I hate myself for thinking this way. I’m happy for her, I really am. I’m also a little bit sorry for her. She has no idea what’s in store for her.
“Congratulations,” I say, letting my anger at Scorpius die away completely. Before we can discuss this anymore, Lily knocks on the door and lets herself in. I can’t help but feel sort of smug that I know about the existence of her future niece/nephew before she does.
“Eh, sorry to interrupt,” she says, “But Scorpius and Daisy are here.”
I say nothing, but take a deep breath and decide to be as fake as physically possible without turning into a piece of plastic. I go downstairs, practicing smiles and happy ‘hello!’s and other merry things that I would never do. They’re in the kitchen. People are gathered round, introducing themselves to Daisy. Bloody treacherous family I have. My own parents, who I hadn’t even realised were here, are shaking hands with her! I thought I could at least depend on Dad to be on my side.
“It’s true? He got married? I thought Vic was pulling my leg!”
I turn around at the sound of this familiar voice and find myself face to face with Dom, one of my many cousins, who has been in Australia for the six months and only came back a week ago. She looks amazing. Her used-to-be strawberry blonde hair is now a chestnut brown and much shorter. I hug her happily, glad that I heard a tone of disgust in her voice when she said the word ‘married’.
“Dom!” I cry, “How was your trip? Your hair is beautiful! I’m sorry I haven’t called round to see you yet I’ve been so busy –”
“Rose, forget my hair – he’s married?” Dom hisses, “How the fuck is he married?”
“I...don’t even know,” I sigh, feeling another lump rise in my throat.
I try my best to avoid Daisy, and I do quite well for the first hour. There are some benefits to having such a big family after all. I help Nana Molly with some of the cooking, I chat to some of my Aunts and Uncles and I try not to make eye contact with my mother, because she’ll give me one of her ‘I know what you’re feeling, and I feel sorry for you’ looks. I really do not need her sympathy. Everyone seems to be giving me those sympathetic looks – and you can’t spell sympathetic without ‘pathetic’. I didn’t realise that everyone knew about my feelings for Scorpius. Unfortunately, I can’t avoid Daisy forever. While playing with Dorie on the floor of the living room, Daisy arrives in with two glasses of Butterbeer, one for her and one for me. It would be incredibly rude to pour it over her, so I just imagine how that would feel. This helps me smile when I say ‘thank you’.
“This is Dorie?” Daisy asks me, looking at the ever-smiling child sitting on my knee.
“Eh, yes,” I reply, “She’s –”
“Victoire and Teddy’s,” Daisy finishes, “Yes, I know. I was talking to Teddy in the kitchen. He seems nice.”
He is nice, and there’s no way you’re taking him away from me too, bitch. Shit, I hope she doesn’t know Occlumency.
“Mmm,” I answer.
“We didn’t really get a chance to talk properly yesterday,” says Daisy, as I continue to avoid looking at her, “I know it must be strange for you –”
“Eh, look Daisy, I’m still trying to get my head around this whole situation,” I tell her, “I don’t really feel like discussing the ins and outs of your wedding right now.” I know I’m a bitch. I’m alright with it.
“Yes, I completely understand that,” she says. Why is she so bloody mature? “I’d just like it if one day you and I could be friends?”
I look at her. She obviously doesn’t realise that I only like one nice person, and that person is Jenny. I really can’t take on another. “I’m sorry,” I tell her, “but I have a lot of friends. I don’t need, nor do I want another.” I stand up, still holding Dorie (who is giggling at James, who is making faces at her from across the room) and walk away from Daisy, not feeling at all guilty about how horrible I’ve been to her. Usually I’m only horrible to people in my head – it’s a strange sensation to actually say what I’m thinking.
Daisy and Scorpius leave soon after for dinner at the Malfoys, and Scorpius hasn’t said a single word to me. I don’t particularly care, either. I have nothing to say to him. I’m starting to really abhor that man. And I mean it this time.
By the time dinner is ready here at The Burrow, Aidan is talking to me again. Everybody has been introduced to Ollie and they seem to like her much more than Daisy. We eat in the large dining room that Dad, Uncle Harry, Uncle George and Uncle Bill built last year for Nana Molly and Grandad, which is just off the kitchen. We finally have a non-cramped, roofed area to eat at family get-togethers. Dom tells stories from Australia, including one of an old warlock she ‘accidentally’ gave a lap dance to in a pub not unlike the Hogs Head – apparently she had run out of gold for her rent and the warlock was offering her quite a bit more if she did ‘something else’ (which she assures us, she didn’t). Aunt Fleur and Uncle Bill look shocked, disgusted and extremely pale after the story, but the rest of us can’t help but laugh at this typical Dom behaviour. Al and Jenny later announce the date of their wedding, though they keep the news of the pregnancy on the down low. And James tops everyone else’s news with his own – he has been made captain of the Chudley Cannons. Aidan ends up choking on his turkey upon hearing this.
After dinner, we break up into groups once more. This time Jenny, Dom, Molly, Lily, Roxie and I are in the kitchen discussing Scorpius and Daisy. It was not my idea, yet I can't help venting.
“She’s basically me,” I tell them my theory, “I mean, she’s tall, I’m tall. She’s Daisy, I’m Rose – flowers, see? Well, technically daisies are weeds. Who’d pick a weed over a rose? She even has a sort of witty sarcasm thing going on.” I’m fuming now, as if she’s deliberately copying me.
“Hmm, I suppose she’s sort of like you,” says Lily uncertainly.
“She has a nicer nose than you,” Molly observes, “And she’s much thinner too.”
“She didn’t have a baby!” I cry, “And it’s not my fault I inherited Dad’s stupid nose!”
“She’s not as bitterly sarcastic as you,” says Roxie.
“Yeah,” Jenny joins in, “She’s more jokey, while you’re more –”
“Hostile?” Dom suggests and everyone else sounds in agreement. I hate my family.
“And she’s not as insecure either,” says Lily, “She seems very confident.”
“Oh and her hair!” Roxie exclaims.
“Her hair is gorgeous!” Molly agrees.
“You can all shut up now,” I snap, “Why don’t you just adopt Daisy as your cousin instead?”
“I wish we could,” Molly sighs and everyone else agrees. I know they’re just saying this to piss me off, but I still want to curse the lot of them. Jenny and Dom wink at me to let me know that they’re just joking, but I still can’t help but feel annoyed. There is truth in everything they’ve said. And they don’t even know about how much of a bitch I was to her earlier on.
One of the many positive things of having Aidan in my life is that I can use him as an excuse to leave things early.
“I think Aid’s getting a bit tired,” I announce at around nine, “I better take him on home.” The truth is I’m the one who’s getting tired. Aidan could easily keep going for another few hours, but I’m not sure I could. I of course have to go through the rounds of hugging everyone goodbye and wishing them all a happy Christmas once more. Grandad slips a few galleons into my pocket as I hug him, as if I’m still six years old looking for money for sweets and trying to hide it from my parents.
“Don't spend it all at once,” he tells me.
“Happy Christmas, Grandad,” I kiss him and then move on to Mum and Dad.
“Are you flooing home?” Mum asks and then continues before I have the time to reply that yes, I am, “Here, it’s just a little something from your dad and I.” She hands me an envelope.
“Mum, we said we weren’t doing presents this year!” I protest. In fact, it was Mum’s suggestion that we don’t do presents. I think she suggested it because she knows I’m not exactly overburdened with cash at the minute. “I didn’t get you anything.” I feel even worse now than I did before.
“Oh, it’s only small,” she insists. I open up the envelope to find –
“Apparition lessons? Mum, you really shouldn’t have,” I tell her.
“Well I thought it was about time,” she says, “They’re every Saturday for four weeks and then you can take the exam.” I hug her in thanks and then Dad, who is in the middle of a game of Wizard’s Chess with Uncle Harry. I don’t know why Uncle Harry even bothers anymore – he always loses. Actually, I don’t think anyone has ever beaten Dad. Even when Hugo and I were kids, Dad wouldn’t do the nice, fatherly thing and let us win (“they have to learn to lose, Hermione!”) because he’s so competitive.
Aidan, Ollie and I floo home, Aidan carrying a rather large bag that he won’t let me look in. When we arrive back in the flat, he empties out the bag to reveal even more presents, all from the different members of my family. Ollie dances around them, barking happily.
“Who gave you these?” I ask.
“Al and Jenny, Teddy, Dom, Nana Molly, Nana Hermione –” I’m not sure if he understands that Nana Molly is in fact his Great Nana Molly, but he doesn’t seem too bothered. “– James, Gran-Grandad –” Gran-Grandad is Grandad Arthur. I don’t really know how he keeps up. “Grandad Draco –”
“What did Grandad Draco get you?” I interrupt.
“Gold,” he grins, holding up a bag full of golden Galleons. Always so thoughtful, Draco. Still, Aidan seems happy enough with it.
“We’ll have to put that in your Gringotts vault,” I tell him and he makes a face, but doesn’t protest. Really, what’s a five year old going to do with gold anyway? He’ll appreciate it much more when he’s in Hogwarts and completely skint.
“Oh, this one’s for you,” he says and hands me a rectangular black box, “It’s from me.”
“Thank you,” I grin and kiss him, wondering if it was Mum or Aunt Ginny who gave him this to give to me. I open it and there is a beautiful, colourful peacock-feather quill inside. “It’s lovely.”
“You can use it for work,” he tells me, now playing with a toy Ford Anglia that I know had to be from Grandad.
“Yes, it’ll come in very handy,” I say, and open the little note attached.
There are two things that lead me to believe that Aidan didn’t write this note. Firstly, Aidan has never in his life called me ‘Mummy’ – I’ve always been ‘Mum’ and probably always will be. Secondly, it’s written in Scorpius’s handwriting.
Maybe today wasn’t so bad.
A/N - Apologies for the wait! I've been kind of busy and I had a bit of writer's block with this chapter. I'm still not that satisified with it, but I hope the next few will flow a bit better! Thanks so much to everyone has reviewed, I hope you're enjoying! Let me know what you think, I appreciate all feedback! :D
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